Looking back on Canadian indie rock band Tokyo Police Club’s sophomore album “Champ,” you hear the resilience of an underdog fighter about to silence any doubters with their next punch.
Released amongst a crowded field of seminal post-punk revival bands back in 2010, with singer David Monks’ tuneful and literate vocals, it still carries that scrappiness and likeability that made it an instant favorite for critics and fans alike when it was released.
To celebrate the 10-year anniversary of the landmark album, Tokyo Police Club is currently hitting the road behind the release of a special deluxe edition of the record. They’ll be making a special appearance at The Foundry at The Fillmore on Wednesday, Nov. 17, where they’ll be playing “Champ” front to back.
When I connected with Tokyo Police Club keyboardist and guitarist Graham Wright over the phone, the band had just pulled off the road for a quick bite to eat at Jimmy John’s on the road to their next city. It’s their 8th night on the road revisiting what many consider to be the definitive TPC album and as they drive further into America, Wright and the rest of the band have been riding a massive high from all the love they’ve been receiving from longtime fans.
Even though the record wasn’t a massive world-dominating force like some of their post-punk pop-leaning peers like Vampire Weekend, Wright is amazed at how deeply “Champ” has been cherished by fans and how that love has grown stronger in the 10 years since it’s release.
“It seems like everyone I’m talking to does have that personal relationship to it,” says Wright, “That’s what the great thing about doing this anniversary run has been, hearing from people about that and being reminded that that record really went some places and entered into some people’s lives in a really real way which is obviously the most flattering thing you can hear.”
The band has been playing the album front to back on the road. Luckily, the album is sequenced in a way that benefits a live show. From the slow build of its opener “Favourite Food” to it’s bombastic closer “Frankenstein,” the album takes you on an ebb and flow rollercoaster ride that shares the dynamics of a perfectly crafted setlist.
Even though the record lends itself to this kind of treatment already, Graham thinks that if they were to play the record out of sequence it would be a disservice to their fans and to the work that went into sequencing the record.
“Frankly, I think reworking an album for live performance is kind of cowardly. That’s part of the challenge and the job of it!” exclaims Wright.
“The album doesn’t flow in the way that we usually set our concerts up to flow,” he explains further. “It sort of has its own thing. But the album was beholden to it. So we kind of have to meet it halfway and figure out a way to pull that flow out of it. That’s exciting and you learn new things and you sort of create new experiences from that. If we just started shuffling it around to make it fit into our previous plan, that’s cheap. That’s easy.”
While Champ contains some of the band’s most well-known songs like “Bambi,” “Breakneck Speed,” and “Wait Up (Boots of Danger),” Wright and the rest of the band have been excited to dig into the deep cuts on the album that don’t regularly make it to their setlists. For Wright, the song “Big Difference” has been a real gem to rediscover onstage.
“‘Big Difference’ is one that we really hadn’t played much for years. Which is weird because it’s one of the more straight ahead rock songs on the record,” he said. “But for whatever reason, it just never found a comfortable home in our set until now. And it kind of feels like certainly for me, it’s kind of the highlight of the show every night.”
While the band is revisiting this shining moment in their career, both Wright and Monks have been busy making music with their own solo projects, with Wright’s “The Cost Of Doing Business” released this past September. But what’s on the horizon for Tokyo Police Club?
“We’re gonna enjoy every second of his tour, which has been a total blast so far,” says Wright. “Then we get home and it’s Christmas time. So we’ll take a beat, have a holiday. And then I don’t know. I mean, just things are kind of coming back online. After, you know, two years practically of being off. So the world is our oyster. We haven’t made any solid plans. But I think everyone’s pretty psyched to work on new tunes and get together and see what comes out of it.”